What Is A Birth Doula and Why Might You Want One?

What Is A Birth Doula and Why Might You Want One?

"It is absolutely worth hiring a doula. You get more than just someone supporting you and your partner at the birth. And you have a team behind you. Whilst it might seem like a luxury to get a doula, the service really makes a significantly positive contribution to both the mother's and partner's birthing experience. It's a decision that you won't regret, and having had a doula, it is hard to imagine not using the service again. It goes beyond just the birthing experience."

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Top Tips on Writing Birth Preferences

Writing your birth preferences is important to do for a number of reasons:  
1. It gives you time and space to think about what you want for your birth
2. It opens communication between you and your birth support team
3. It helps you to familiarise yourself with hospital policies
4. You have time to compare policies with national guidelines, international guidelines and evidence based research.
5. It gives you a tool to remain in control and make informed decisions
 

Key points when writing your birth preferences

Woman taking notes.jpg

Keep your language open and positive. You have a chance to create the atmosphere you wish to birth in. Positivity is key and opens on a good relationship with your team.

Know your chosen hospitals policies. Each hospital has different policies around key factors in labour and birth. You are free to question these and even change hospital if you feel better suited to a different standard of care.

Know the HSE (national) and international guidelines / best practice / evidence. This is key. If you know what the evidence says then you can make an unbiased informed decision, rather than being swept along with a phrase such as “that’s the way we have always done it here”

Keep it to 10 points, or less. Anything more will negate the things that are important to you.

Don’t bother putting things in that are already policy in your chosen hospital (ie drinking water during labour) Again if you are familiar with your hospitals policies then you can avoid this.

Think about the atmosphere you want to birth in. Would you like the lights dimmed, music playing, limit the number of people in the room etc Or are you happy to have lights on, student midwives and doctors in the room etc?

Be firm on the points that are non negotiable for you once all is OK with baby (i.e. if you absolutely do not want an episotomy and would rather have a natural tear if it came to it). Some decisions need to be made in a split second and having discussions around the really important issues before hand are vital.

Create birth preferences for a Caesarean Birth preferences as well. This is a good idea for all the same reasons that are mentioned here. You can have the discussions, make informed decisions and then ‘park it’ to one side. You have your just in case covered, remaining in control. Then you can shift your focus back to the birth you visualise. It can be on the next page so your focus is not necessarily on this outcome if you are not planning to have an elective Caesarean, but it does mean that if things don't turn out as you had hoped you have something written up to help you create a dialogue with staff. 

Create your birth preferences with your birth partner. This is important as they will be your advocate for the day. Being aware of what you want and why will help them be a better advocate for you. 

Bring multiple copies so you have them for shift changes. Make sure your partner is aware they need to ask the team caring for you to read through them and discuss them with you both. 

Finally knowledge is power as they say - but trust in the process is also important. All the above are important and give you the knowledge to discover what you want for your birth. It gets the discussion out of the way before labour begins, as during labour it's important to park the conscious brain as much as you can. You body and your baby know what to do, they are an awesome team, made to work together. Let your advocate voice your preferences and allow yourself to go with your labour journey.

Here at Doulacare Ireland we will always helps our clients draw up their birth preferences after meeting with their birth doula for an antenatal visit. We listen to what is important for our clients and offer information on evidence based care that will enable them to be aware of what they might want to include in a birth preference sheet. We would always encourage clients to have some birth preferences to facilitate improved communication between clients and staff. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 15

Awww - myself and Paul at my Debs - 12 years ago! 

Awww - myself and Paul at my Debs - 12 years ago! 

This was a bit of a hard week. My father in law has been diagnosed with cancer of the throat. It hit us pretty hard as Bren is almost like my Dad (I have been with Paul since I was 18 and growing up I never really had a Dad). He covers most of our childcare when myself and Paul are both working and the boys absolutely adore him. He will need more tests, and he has to see specilists so I will need to rally round and help out (Paul's mum doesn’t drive and neither does his brother so it’s up to myself and Paul to bring him to all his hospital appointments. Of course we are happy to do it,  it will just mean lots of reshuffling schedules for a while). 

Adding to the week, my good friend lost her Dad after a long illness so we had the wake and funeral to attend. My heart broke for her but she has wonderful family support and I know they will all pull together over the coming weeks. I haven’t told any of my friends or family about Bren yet as he is not ready for everyone to know (by the time this blog is posted he will be). So I have had to hold a lot of my emotions in this week in order to support everyone, during a very overly emotional time (with added pregnancy hormones). 

It has been difficult but we are lucky to have so many people to love in our lives. Our little baby is also fluttering away a lot, which puts a huge smile on my face and is great reassurance. The boys are excited to be able to feel baby soon and Leon keeps putting his hand on my belly in the hope he might feel something.

I am again grateful to have Mary as not only my business partner but now a really good friend. I have confided in her with so much, and as a doula she is wonderful at listening and being a sounding board. I am excited for her to be my birth doula, sharing the duties with my mentor Mim. Mim has been a constant source of encouragement to me over the years and was my tutor during my antenatal teacher course. She attended my wedding with Paul too!

With two of the most skilled and experienced birth doulas in the country by my side throughout this journey, I know myself and Paul will feel confident and in control. 

I am also trying to use my GentleBirth App more this week, as I know I have been stressed out and I want my baby to feel calm. I am so lucky to have Tracy Donnegan as friend, so she has recommended some tracks to concentrate on. I still find it strange listening to her voice on the tracks but they are wonderful and I do find I am drifting off to sleep much easier at night. 

I am having a much better week with the sickness. I seem to only get sick in the morning these days, which means I am eating almost like a normal person now!! I am thrilled and hope to be able to enjoy a full meal soon.  Simple food it still working best and I cannot stomach chocolate or tea at all yet (for anyone who knows me...chocolate and cups of tea were a staple to my diet so this is crazy!). 

Hopefully things will continue to get better with the pregnancy and Bren will recover quickly with the right care and TLC. 

Until next time......Jen x

 

Week 15: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of an apple this week
  • He or she can move all of their joints and limbs
  • Their eyelids are still sealed shut - but they can sense light (if you shine a light on your bump, they may move away, for example)
  • Your baby is now practising how to breathe. While their lungs are still not fully developed the muscles that manage breathing are; and these are being used to breathe in small amounts of amniotic fluid and breathe it out again
  •  

Week 15: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

  • Varicose veins may start to appear as the extra amount of blood volume in your body puts pressure on your veins (they usually go away after the birth). 
  • Increased energy
  • Increased libido
  • You may get nosebleeds (blame that on the increase in blood volume again, as well as your nasal passages being extra sensitive).
  • You may have swollen, sore, or bleeding gums. Pregnancy can make your gums more sensitive. Be gentle but brush and floss them regularly and get some dental check ups to keep them well. 

Week 15: Pregnancy Tip

You may find your libido has increased due to the pregnancy hormones in your body and your energy levels coming back. As long as your HCP has not given you any indication that you need to refrain from sex, it is perfectly safe for you and baby.  Sometimes Mum and partner will worry that baby will be harmed, but they are safely ensconced in the uterus with a thick mucus plug sealing the cervix and the amniotic sac surrounding them Some Mums will be concerned that sex might get labour started. While for some women an orgasm might result in very mild surges occurring (contractions), these are usually temporary and harmless and not the surges that will get labour started. If there is any cause for concern run it by your HCP first. 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 13

Well this week I was back doing the job I love. I was working with 3 different families and then on Sunday I spoke at the Baby Wearing Ireland, Wear a Hug Fair. It was a great day and I was honoured to speak as part of their expert panel. There were lots of people to catch up with too. Over all it was a fantastic day full of chatting with new or expecting parents and catching up with old friends. 

With the other women on the expert panel at the Wear A Fair - BabyWearing Consultant Olwen Row from  Born To Be Carried  and Lactation Consultant Mairead Murphy from  Better Breastfeeding . It was so lovely to catch up with them. 

With the other women on the expert panel at the Wear A Fair - BabyWearing Consultant Olwen Row from Born To Be Carried and Lactation Consultant Mairead Murphy from Better Breastfeeding. It was so lovely to catch up with them. 

I have been feeling pretty rough this week. My sickness seems to be getting worse again. Perhaps it is the shock of being back at work (LOL!).  I am lucky to have many friends in the maternity field so I made a few calls and spoke with some HCPs about the sickness. One new drug that seems to be up and coming in Cariban. It is for severe morning/all day sickness and has been used in Australia and USA for many years. It is still new here so I plan to speak with the hospital staff next week at my booking appointment. 

I have taken to driving with a big plastic bowl beside me in the car. I have had a few hairy moments where I could feel I was about to get sick but was in 3 lane traffic with no where to pull in – so the bowl has saved me a few times! 

On Friday I nearly rang my husband to collect me  when I was half way home as I wasn’t sure I could drive any more. After 20 minutes of driving I had stopped 4 times to get sick. I managed to pull myself together and get home. I literally crawled into bed and conked out for 2 hours!

I have decided to pull back a bit on my work load. I absolutely love what I do and I am so lucky to have amazing clients who make me excited to go to work every day. However, I spend my working day minding everyone else and ensuring they are ok. It is time I do the same for myself and baba. So next week I will be working my last night shift for probably a year or two! I can’t believe it. It does seem surreal. 

I managed this week to pop all my pre-pregnancy clothes into black bags and up into the attic. I am firmly out of them now. I am in leggings next size up and some baggy tops from Pennys. I also have a few items I bought that are maternity. To my frustration Paul couldn’t find my bag of maternity clothes from Seth & Leon so I may have to buy some more as I go along. 

Anyway....Until next time... Jen x

 

Week 13: What Is Happening To Your Baby: 

Photo by  Ernest Porzi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ernest Porzi on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of a lemon
  • They may be able to suck their thumb from this week
  • Tiny fingerprints are forming on your baby's fingers
  • The part of your baby's brain responsible for solving problems and memory is starting to form this week 
  • If you are having a boy his testicles are now formed and his penis is growing
  • If you are having a girl, her ovaries are now developed (and contain all her millions of eggs). 

 

 

 

 

Week 13: What Might Be Happening With Your Body:

  • Woo hoo!!! You have made it through the first trimester.
  • You may be noticing an increase in vaginal discharge which will increase throughout your pregnancy due to the increase in the levels of oestrogen in the body. It is there to protect your birth canal from infection. 
  • Your clothes will be definitely getting too tight now. 
  • You might find your energy levels and appetite increasing.
  • You might find your sex drive increased. 

 

Pregnancy Tip: 

You may still be suffering from nausea and vomiting at this stage of your pregnancy. It may just be lingering for a bit longer than the first trimester. For some women it can last a few weeks into the second trimester. There is a chance, however - especially if the nausea and vomiting are still very severe at this point - that you may have a condition called hyperememsis. This is a complication of pregnancy that involves severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and dehydration. If you suspect you might have this,  it can help to talk to others for support. There is a fantastic group on Facebook here. If you think you may be vomiting excessively do talk to your GP and Healthcare Provider and see if they can provide anything to help.